From what I have been told, history is about to made down Interstate 75 in the Queen City. Unfortunately, the history that is about to be made is not something to be proud of.
Right now, the beloved Cincinnati Reds stand at 52-73 (perhaps at press time, we could have a bigger number in the loss column), a distant 28½ games out of the division lead. There is serious talk that the 2015 edition of the Reds could lose 100 games. In the club’s long history (they have been playing Major League Baseball since 1890), only once have they lost more than 100 games in a year. That year was 1982.
Perhaps there are some readers that remember that 1982 season. Just by looking at the roster, there was some talent on that squad. Heroes from the Reds of the late 1970s were still on the roster; Dan Driessen, Johnny Bench and Davey Concepcion were everyday players. The pitching staff had a young Mario Soto and an experienced Tom Seaver. There was nothing on paper that made this team look like they were headed for a doomed year.
The same thing can be said for this year’s version of the Reds. At their current record, they are on track for 95 losses. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t look good. Their schedule is tough with many games against teams that will be playing deep in October such as the Pirates, Cubs and Cardinals.
And just like the 1982 version of the Reds, this 2015 squad on paper, looked strong. Everyday players such as Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier were expected to be power hitters. Joey Votto would begin to consistently hit the ball better and for power. Billy Hamilton would begin to just hit so he could strike fear on the base paths.
Pitching-wise, things looked good too. Johnny Cueto was coming off a 20-win season. Mike Leake and Homer Bailey were ready to take the next step in being dominant pitchers. Perhaps this was the year that Sean Marshall (remember him?) would be back. And who could forget the anchor of the bullpen, Aroldis Chapman and his 106 mile per hour fastball. There was reason for optimism.
Well, the season certainly didn’t go as planned. Starting catcher Devon Mesoraco, was injured early and never got healthy. Homer Bailey was put on the disabled list for surgery. Zach Cozart, who was enjoying a career year, was injured as well. As for the healthy players, Billy Hamilton never learned to hit, Joey Votto continued to walk and Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake were traded.
Fortunately, for the Reds, there is reason for hope. As bad as that 1982 Reds team was, the franchises fortunes did turn around. By 1985, the team had won 89 games, which began a stretch lasting into 1990 where the team won 512 games and the 1990 World Series.
Perhaps that same hope can be seen with this version of the Reds. The team is beginning to stockpile a bunch of young pitchers, which from most reports, are very talented. Pitchers like Raciel Iglesias and Anthony DiSclafani have done really well as rookies. Young position players like Eugenio Suarez have done well replacing injured players.
Granted there is a lot of angst around this season and things certainly did not go the way they were expected. Yet, no season goes the way it was expected. Who expected the Astros to be as dominant as they are this year? And how about the Blue Jays, where did they come from? The baseball gods have an amazing way of making each season interesting. For some teams it is a blessing, for others a curse.
While there is still a good month left for baseball, I am glad it’s winding down. Thank goodness football is here!
William (Bill) Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at [email protected]